ORANGE PARK – A pediatrics study garnered national headlines last month, claiming the cognitive and behavioral effects of long-term breastfeeding were indistinguishable at nine months, three years …
ORANGE PARK – A pediatrics study garnered national headlines last month, claiming the cognitive and behavioral effects of long-term breastfeeding were indistinguishable at nine months, three years and five years.
In the study, 7,478 Irish children were given cognitive and behavioral tests with forms filled out by their parents at nine months, three years and five years. The results showed minimal differences in scores by age three and five.
Craig Sussman, a neonatologist at Orange Park Medical Center said the study was the first time he has something seen data like this, but also said it’s important to take the study for what it is.
“Breast milk saves lives, it decreases mortality and morbidity rates. The study doesn’t outweigh the well-known benefits. It's the best and ideal nutrition for mothers.”
Sussman said the study didn’t prove that breastfeeding isn’t critical to a baby's health in the short term. The World Health Organization recommends that mothers breastfeed for at least two years. Sussman said there are no negative breastfeeding studies.
Sussman said there’s an avenue for bias since parents report most of the findings. The study did not factor in variables such as the income or education of the parents.
“You also have to factor the home life, siblings, the environment, the Parent’s IQ, diets, even the schools,” Sussman said.
Sussman said doctors should allow for additional and better studies before they implement it into their practice.
Orange Park Medical Center lactation consultant Donna Mason assists new moms with breastfeeding after delivery. Mason said the study didn’t touch on the physical aspects of breastfeeding, only the cognitive and behavioral.
“It’s well-documented that breastfeeding provides unsurpassed immunity,” Mason said. “The longer a mother breastfeeds the longer she is protected as well.”
Mason said the study doesn’t negate the importance of breastfeeding over any period of time.
“The bottom line is that breastfeeding still provides babies with what they need,” Mason said.